Windward Islands

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Windward Islands,

southern group of the Lesser Antilles in the West Indies, curving generally southward for c.300 mi (480 km) from the Leeward IslandsLeeward Islands
, northern group of the Lesser Antilles in the West Indies, extending SE from Puerto Rico to the Windward Islands. The principal islands are the American Virgin Islands; the French island and overseas dept.
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 toward NE Venezuela. Excluding BarbadosBarbados
, island state (2015 est. pop. 284,000), 166 sq mi (430 sq km), in the West Indies. The capital and largest city is Bridgetown. Land, People, and Economy

The island, E of St. Vincent, in the Windward Islands, is the easternmost of the Caribbean islands.
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 and Trinidad and TobagoTrinidad and Tobago
, officially Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, republic (2015 est. pop. 1,222,000), 1,980 sq mi (5,129 sq km), West Indies. The capital is Port of Spain.
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, which are in the region but are not part of the group, the Windward Islands consist of the French overseas dept. of MartiniqueMauritania
, officially Islamic Republic of Mauritania, republic (2015 est. pop. 386,000), 397,953 sq mi (1,030,700 sq km), NW Africa. Fort-de-France is the capital. The department and the island of Martinique are coextensive.
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 and the former British Windward Islands (c.700 sq mi/1,810 sq km). The former British islands consist of the independent states of DominicaDominica
, officially Commonwealth of Dominica, republic (2015 est. pop. 73,000) consisting of the island of Dominica (290 sq mi/750 sq km), located in the Windward Islands, West Indies. Roseau is the capital and chief port.
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, GrenadaGrenada
, independent state within the Commonwealth of Nations (2015 est. pop. 107,000), 133 sq mi (344 sq km), in the Windward Islands, West Indies. The state includes the island of Grenada (120 sq mi/311 sq km) and the southern third of the Grenadines, a group of largely
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, Saint LuciaSaint Lucia
, island nation (2015 est. pop. 177,000), 238 sq mi (616 sq km), West Indies, one of the Windward Islands. The capital is Castries. Morne Gimie (3,145 ft/959 m high) and the twin pyramidal cones known as the Pitons are the most imposing landmarks.
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, and Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesSaint Vincent and the Grenadines,
island nation (2015 est. pop. 109,000), 150 sq mi (388 sq km), West Indies, in the Windward Islands. It comprises the island of Saint Vincent (140 sq mi/363 sq km) and roughly the northern two thirds of the small Grenadine islands to the south.
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Of volcanic origin, the islands are generally rugged, mountainous, and well forested, and they have many streams and lakes. With an equable climate, ample rainfall, and rich soil, they produce a variety of tropical agricultural crops for export, including bananas, spices, limes, and cacao. The islands are subject to hurricanes. Although small-scale manufacturing has gained importance, the most substantial change has been the growth of the tourist trade, which constitutes the region's economic mainstay. The deep and sheltered harbors encourage considerable interisland commerce. Fort-de-FranceFort-de-France
, city (1999 pop. 94,049), capital of the French overseas dept. of Martinique, West Indies. It is a popular tourist resort and a free port, exporting mainly bananas, sugar, and rum.
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, on Martinique, and CastriesCastries
, town (1991 pop. 11,147; 1991 metropolitan area pop. 51,994), capital and commercial center of Saint Lucia. Its excellent landlocked harbor is one of the best in the West Indies. Castries was founded by the French in 1650.
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, on Saint Lucia, are the islands' chief cities. The islands are largely inhabited by descendants of Africans, who were brought as slaves during the colonial period. The culture varies from island to island, but the French influence is particularly strong.

For some time after Columbus's exploration of the islands, they were largely ignored by Europeans and left to the indigenous Caribs. In the early 17th cent., colonization was undertaken by the British and the French; settlements and sovereignty overlapped. The long struggle for dominance in the islands was a significant part of the worldwide Anglo-French conflict. Several naval battles were fought there; in 1782, off Saint Lucia, the French Admiral de Grasse was defeated by Admiral Rodney. In the Napoleonic Wars the islands traded hands, and it was only after the close of the conflict that Britain established its dominance over them.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Windward Islands


a group of volcanic islands in the West Indies marking the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Sea; the eastern islands of the Lesser Antilles. Area, approximately 6,000 sq km.; population, more than 1.1 million (1972).

The largest islands are Guadeloupe, Martinique, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Grenada, and Antigua. The islands are the possessions of Great Britain, France, and the Netherlands. The landscape of the larger islands is primarily mountainous. The volcano Diablotin on Dominica has a maximum elevation of 1,586m. There are active volcanoes. The climate is dominated by tropical trade winds and is humid. Natural vegetation has been almost completely destroyed. There are plantations of sugarcane, citrus fruits, cacao, and bananas. The main cities are Fort-de-France on Martinique and Point-à-Pitre and Basse-Terre on Guadeloupe.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The fantastic voyage will take a southerly route calling at Lisbon, the Canaries, Morocco, Cape Verde Islands, St Lucia, St Vincent & Grenadines and the Windward Isles.
A tea producer from Sri Lanka and a banana farmer from the Windward Isles will be visiting schools and community groups.
The Co-op stock Fairtrade bananas from Equador, Costa Rica and the Windward Isles in all of its 160 outlets across the region.
Asquith was 46 and had come to Britain from Dominica, the largest of the Windward Isles in the eastern Caribbean.
The appearance of the Harris-trained Petane in the Windward Isles Amateur Riders' Handicap also provides a first mount for Nick Sheridan, who has worked at Pulborough for the last 12 years, firstly for Guy Harwood and more recently for Amanda Perrett.
Justin King, the Midlands-based chief executive of Sainsbury's, has visited the Windward Isles to meet Fairtrade banana farmers.
The Windward Isles, one of the areas biggest banana producers, warned that its farmers might turn to growing drug crops to survive.